Kluber Strikes Out Eleven in Complete Game Gem; Indians 5, Yankees 1
Bob Toth | On 03, Aug 2017
Corey Kluber got the Cleveland Indians back in the win column, ending the team’s three-game losing streak with yet another dominant effort on the mound as he limited the New York Yankees to just one run on three hits in a 5-1 complete game victory.
Kluber was the story of the night as he sliced and diced through the Yankees lineup in a matchup of two of the top clubs in the American League. The Indians, in need of a victory to erase the lingering taste of a devastating walk-off loss in Boston in an emotional roller coaster of a game on Tuesday night, got exactly the start that they needed from their ace.
The Indians officially began life without Andrew Miller in their bullpen, at least for the time being, and Kluber made it a moot point. The left-hander, who was set to undergo an MRI on his right knee on Thursday, was placed on the disabled list prior to Wednesday’s cancellation. His absence thins out the strength at the back end of the bullpen, but Kluber made sure that none of his bullpen mates would need to work after an extensive workload over the previous three games.
It was a good matchup as scheduled on the mound as Kluber was set to face off with right-hander Sonny Gray, one of the top arms traded before the non-waiver trade deadline earlier this week. Set to make his first start for the Yankees, Gray would perform well in the middle of his start, but the Indians would get to him for a pair of big innings with a little luck and some good timing.
Kluber struck out a pair in the first before the Tribe bats got to work thanks to some shoddy work in the field behind Gray. Bradley Zimmer reached safely on a booted ball by first baseman Chase Headley and he advanced to second on a groundout by Francisco Lindor. Michael Brantley reached safely on the second error of the inning, this one by second baseman Tyler Wade, putting runners on the corners with one out. Jose Ramirez singled to right, scoring Zimmer easily, but the throw from former Tribe top prospect Clint Frazier sailed past third for the third error of the inning, allowing Brantley to score to give the Indians a 2-0 lead.
The Yankees got their first base runner in the second on a one-out walk by Jacoby Ellsbury, but he would go no further as Kluber struck out two in the frame. He added his fifth K in the third in a quick inning.
Frazier got the first hit of the game for the Yankees in the fourth, doubling into the right field corner. Didi Gregorius flied to the track in deep center to move Frazier to third, but Kluber struck out Gary Sanchez swinging before Ellsbury grounded off of first base to Carlos Santana to end the inning.
The Indians threatened in the fourth and made Gray work, but he was able to work out of the jam. Edwin Encarnacion singled to start the inning but was forced at second on a grounder by Santana. A walk by Brandon Guyer moved Santana into scoring position, but a grounder to third by Yan Gomes forced Santana for the second out. Erik Gonzalez struck out to end the threat, stranding a pair.
Gray looked to be on his way to a quick sixth after retiring Ramirez and Encarnacion on four pitches, but he lost the strike zone against Santana, walking him on four straight pitches with two outs. Guyer would attack the next pitch, driving a single to right, and Gomes jumped on the first pitch to him and scorched a double high off of the wall in left to score both base runners to double the Tribe’s lead to 4-0.
The Yankees would do their only real damage to Kluber in the seventh, when Sanchez homered to deep left-center to make it a 4-1 game. It would be the only inning on the night that Kluber would not strike out at least one batter. The Indians would get the run back in the bottom half of the inning, when Chasen Shreve served up a homer to left to Lindor. The homer, his 18th, extended his hitting streak to 13 games.
Kluber returned to the mound in the ninth with the bullpen silent. He ended Brett Gardner‘s 14-game hitting streak with a grounder to short to start the inning before striking out Frazier for his eleventh K of the night. A grounder by Gregorius to Ramirez at third ended the contest.
The win ended the three-game losing skid for the Indians (58-48). The Yankees (57-50) have now lost four of their last five contests and dropped to 25-30 on the road.
Gray (6-6, 3.41 ERA) took the loss in his Yankees’ debut. The defensive miscues forced him to work longer and cost him in the long run. He allowed four runs, just two earned, on four hits with three walks and six strikeouts in his third start against Cleveland this season. Kluber (9-3, 2.77) continued his ownership of Major League Baseball hitters since his return from the disabled list at the beginning of June. He allowed three hits and a walk on an economical 106 pitches, 72 of which crossed for strikes. He faced just three over the minimum and threw first pitch strikes to 18 of the 30 batters that he faced. He got 19 swings and misses in the ball game.
MORE KLUBER STATS
When Kluber reached the eight-strikeout mark in the top of the sixth with his strikeout of Gardner, he entered into some pretty exclusive company. He became just the fourth pitcher in Major League history to strike out at least eight batters in 12 consecutive starts, joining three Hall of Famers in Randy Johnson (four times), Pedro Martinez (two times), and Nolan Ryan (once).
In his last 12 starts, Kluber is 6-1 with a 1.77 ERA. In 86 1/3 innings, he has struck out 131 batters and held opposing hitters to a .172 average. It marked the eleventh time this season that he has reached double-digit strikeout totals in a start, third in the Majors behind Chris Sale and Max Scherzer.
Kluber is now 4-1 in his career against the Yankees with a 1.71 ERA. The complete game was his third this season and the 13th of his career, the most in the American League since 2014. Clayton Kershaw leads the Majors in that span with 14; Madison Bumgarner has 13.
Trevor Bauer (9-8, 5.25), who was scheduled to start Wednesday’s series finale in Boston with the Red Sox before weather intervened, will get the nod on Friday. Left-hander Jaime Garcia (5-7, 4.29) will put on the pinstripes for the first time in his Yankees debut. Garcia made a quality start his last time out for Minnesota, which happened to be both his first and last start with the Twins organization.
A packed house will fill Progressive Field for Friday night’s 7:10 PM ET first pitch.
Photo: AP Photo/David Dermer